Millions across the world tuned in to celebrate the life of Rachel Noelle Fernández- Sparks. Loving wife, mother of three, grandmother of one, and Music-Hall-of-Famer. Rachel’s death may have been untimely and unexpected, but she was in the midst of doing what she loved… serving the Lord.
She was in Kenya, volunteering in a clinic her foundation raised funds to support. When a group of hostiles barged in and demanded the clinic’s supplies. Though the staff and Rachel surrendered the supplies, as Rachel attempted to stop the hostiles from taking the children, she was shot and killed.
Her death, only two years after remarrying the love of her life, Keith Sparks, pastor of the largest west coast church in America. He too intended to be on that trip, but was asked to speak at an event in South Africa. He planned on meeting up with his bride afterward.
She retired from the Music Business last year. And just a month before traveling to Kenya, she finished The Farewell Tour with The Byzantine Souls.
Pastor Keith Sparks took the podium at his church, where the memorial service was held. With tears flooding down his face, he cleared his throat to speak. A genuine smile smeared across his face as he used the cuff of his shirt to wipe his eyes and cheeks.
“It’s almost like I can hear her now…” He chuckled. “Like she’s hanging out with Jesus and saying, ‘O God, I can’t believe he’s crying that I’m gone. I get the better end of the deal and he’s upset.’ For anyone listening today, who may be puzzled by what I think my late wife would say in eternity… you first must understand the faith she had.
“We grew up in church together. As children no one talked about hearing from the Holy Spirit more than her. Unfortunately, due to the pressures of life and mental illness, she lost her way, hopelessly placing her faith in a broken, and dying world.
“It wasn’t until two decades ago, she had a moment where she encountered the power of the Holy Spirit again… And since that day… we often talked about the day we would meet our savior face to face. And though we wanted a storybook ending and the chance to go together… She said if she couldn’t have that, she wanted to go out a martyr, serving the Lord and winning souls…
“That’s why, a few years ago, she retired from music. She loved her career in music. Often, music was therapy for her. When she forsook God, music helped her in ways she once looked to God to help her. But the limelight, the pressures of producing the next great album, took her away from her service to the Lord. She didn’t feel like she was the Kanye-convert type… She was more a Selena Gomez… She knew she was called to go to nations and serve people with the light and the truth of the Gospel.
“I remember when we were seven and a missionary to Spain came to our church. The kids sat in regular service because our pastor thought it was important we understood what it meant to understand the call of God… And she was mesmerized by a life in missions. Right after the missionary got done speaking she said to me, ‘After I get done living my dream as a rockstar, I’m gonna be a missionary to Kenya, and I’m going to die doing that… the Holy Spirit just told me.’
“I may be sad my best friend in the whole world next to Jesus is gone from this life, but I have peace and I have joy and I have hope I will see her one day… in Paradise with our Lord and our Savior – Jesus Christ.
“Now, being spiritual is okay today… but many have faith in science and many pick and chose what to believe about God. Rachel would want me to make it very clear right now. Understand, she was someone who felt the hurt of seemingly unanswered prayers, of being abandoned by everyone she loved, of being mistreated and abused, and she lived life without God for many years, but she returned to God… because there was one thing she depended on more than her feelings, her dreams, her wants, you name it, and that was her dependency on TRUTH… Not truth based on thoughts and emotions, but TRUTH that stood the test of time and was as true today as it was hundreds of years ago. That truth is the Gospel. For anyone watching the live stream or are here in attendance, if you have not made the Lord Jesus your Savior and you don’t know what that means but something in you is pulling you to say ‘Yes, Lord; today… There are pastors ready to chat online… call the number or text the number on the screen. If you’re here, flood this altar…”
Over half in attendance stood up and rushed the altar answering the call to salvation…
“Now we’re going to pray what church folk call a prayer of salvation, but by coming forward, by calling or texting or typing in this moment, you have already chosen Jesus. What you need is to find fellow believers to grow and to teach you how to get to know the Creator. People fall away from God, not because He isn’t there, but because they don’t take the steps to get to know Him and He makes it clear in the Bible…. Say this prayer with me…”
As he went on to pray, the crowd at the altar repeated his words, praying the prayer of salvation.
“Welcome to the family! Y’all… now we have more to celebrate than just Rachel’s beautiful life, we now have all these new brothers and sisters in Christ… It’s time to listen to the music! We’ll start everything off with a never before released song that was inspired by her farewell tour. When you buy and download the song, every dollar will go to the many clinics Rachel set up in Kenya and other parts of Africa. Take a listen to Finally Home.”
Storm a few years later, took over as pastor to Keith’s church. His wife, son, and daughter– Noelle, by his side.
Santi formed his own band called the Mania Muses.
Serafina went to Bible College and got her degree in Missions. She currently served in the Philippines.
Keith moved to Kenya to continue the Rachel started.
Rachel’s family continued to live their lives in their calling awaiting for the return of the Lord, or until they meet Him face to face.
Storyteller via writer, actor, filmmaker, and artist.